F2 21778 Are You Okay?
Produced by Don Was and David Was
Released on July 3, 1990
US CHART POSITION #99 . . . UK CHART POSITION #35
Find it at GEMM
F2 21778 cover  

A pparently everything was not okay with Was (Not Was), and the band broke up after this album. You wouldn’t know it from Are You Okay?, which runs like a well-oiled watch through a dozen different modern dance numbers. Instead of the wild blender of styles whipped up by Tornadoes, Are You Okay? keeps both feet firmly in the R&B/dance camp (save for “You! You! You!”). The surprises come in the lyrical content and the strange sensation that stems from listening to music that simultaneously tickles your brain and shakes your booty. A cover of “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” became a minor hit, though the rap sections from G Love E are L Am E (so was a lot of rap in 1990 I suppose). More interesting over the long haul are tracks like “I Feel Better Than James Brown” (one of those spoken surreal vignettes from David Was), “How The Heart Behaves” and “Elvis’ Rolls Royce.” Having settled on a core band for the studio, Was (Not Was) doesn’t lean on outside contributors so much. The cameos are still interesting: Iggy Pop (Don was producing him at the time), Leonard Cohen, Syd Straw, The Roches. Despite its prickly interior, the smooth exterior of Are You Okay? is likely to please R&B/dance/funk fans who followed “Walk The Dinosaur” and thought The Time were the bomb. If songs like “Professor Night” and “The Party Broke Up” from Tornadoes didn’t float your boat, then Are You Okay? may not either. There’s nothing here as catchy as “Out Come The Freaks,” though “How The Heart Behaves” comes close and “Maria Novarro” uses a similar melody. But it’s all so intelligent, so professional, and so dang funky that I’m okay with everything Was (Not Was) offers up here. It’s also a pleasure to hear Sir Harry Bowens and Sweet Pea Atkinson utilized across an entire album. I couldn’t get a grip on the glossy exterior the first few times I heard this, but the more you listen to Are You Okay?, the more the sheer musicality of it will win you over. If it seems miles removed from prog, consider this: Was the later work of Godley & Creme so much different?

F2 21778 sleeve gatefold
F2 21778 sleeve gatefold

TRACK LISTING

  1. ARE YOU OKAY?    4:30
  2. PAPA WAS A ROLLIN' STONE    (Norman Whitfield/Barret Strong)    6:42
  3. I FEEL BETTER THAN JAMES BROWN    4:45
  4. HOW THE HEART BEHAVES    5:45
  5. MARIA NOVARRO    3:28
  6. I BLEW UP THE UNITED STATES    3:51
  7. IN K MART WARDROBE    4:15
  8. ELVIS' ROLLS ROYCE    3:30
  9. DRESSED TO BE KILLED    (David Was/Don Was/G Love E)    4:14
  10. JUST ANOTHER COUPLE BROKEN HEARTS    5:00
  11. YOU! YOU! YOU!    (David Was/Don Was/Luis Resto)    3:30
  12. LOOK WHAT'S BACK    0:43

    All songs written by David Was/Don Was unless noted

CREDITS

SWEET PEA ATKINSON -- vocals
RAYSE BIGGS -- trumpet
SIR HARRY BOWENS -- vocals
DEBRA DOBKIN -- percussion, vocals
RANDY JACOBS -- guitar
DAVID McMURRAY -- sax
DONALD RAY MITCHELL -- vocals
JAMIE MUHOBERAC -- keyboards
RON PANGBORN -- drums
DAVID WAS -- flute, keyboards, vocals
DON WAS -- bass, keys, engineer
Ewreck Benson -- background vocals (8)
Downtown Julie Brown -- background vocals (8)
Brad Buxer -- additional keyboards (4)
Leonard Cohen -- lead vocal (8)
Doug Fieger -- background vocals (6,9)
Andy Gill -- background vocals (9)
Jon Jaz-Was -- saxophonic reticulation
Jeff Lorber -- keyboard arranging, programming & performance, engineer
G Love E -- rap
Iggy Pop -- background vocals (8)
Luis Resto -- keyboards (11)
Paul Riser -- string and horn arrangements
The Roches -- vocals (5)
Syd Straw -- lead vocal (11)
Ed Cherney -- mixing, engineer
Keith Cohen -- mixing
Steve Deutsch -- engineer
Kenny Jones -- engineer
David Bates -- executive producer
Phonogram Art -- art direction
Tim Whiteley -- paintbox operator
Mark Ryden -- cover illustration
Dean Freeman -- group photo

return to WAS (NOT WAS) discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US July 3, 1990 Chrysalis CD 21778 lyric sleeve
UK/GER July 1990 Fontana LP/CD/CS 846 351 different cover?

 

For more discographies visit...
progrography

© 2004 Connolly & Company. All rights reserved.